Saturday, February 9, 2008

WANTED . . .

Bring Back the 6.0 System

In 2004, the International Skating Union voted to completely change the way skating is scored, abandoning the traditional 6.0 ordinal systems for a new system called the "Code of Points.” (COP) The idea is that in the Code of Points system, every aspect of the skating is marked individually.

Under the old system, 14 judges gave a skater a single score of up to 6.0 for a program’s technical elements. The COP system, nine judges give a score; however, only the scores from seven of them would count. A computer system would randomly select the seven marks so the judges wouldn't know beforehand whose scores would be used. This new format grants a score for each major move — jumps, spirals, steps, spins. This adds a level of quality to a sport often critiqued for its much subjective scoring. Skaters would get points for those required elements, as well as for execution. All of the judges' scores would be added up and the winner would be determined by the total points.

As a result of this new system, I find that the programs have been standardized. The majority of the programs look the same, with the same step sequences, the same spins, and similar jumps. All of those rules leave no room for creativity. There isn’t much room for choreography.

It's All About Points

The skaters’ objective now is to count how long they have hold a position in a spiral sequence, or how many turns they execute in each position in a spin. This format is much too technical. There is little room for creativity, the emphasis is on analyzing and count which element to execute or to omit in order to accumulate the most points. The skater's goal is to cram as many of elements as possible into a performance without having to collapse into a bout of fatigue. There was nothing wrong with the 6.0 system, just wrong judges.

This is what Sandra Bezic had to say during Emily Hughes' free skate (Skate America 2007); and her views are in total accordance with the above thought:

"The skaters have so much to think about. They have to count for points as they are skating, along with thinking about techniques and performance" Sandra Bezic (Skate America 2007)

We are no longer seeing the skaters’ passion, the skaters’ joy during their performances; we are only seeing skaters struggling to get to the end of overly exhaustive programs; programs are filled up with jumps, jump combinations and sequences, one after the other, and transitions, that are usually slow due to the number of elements that are required. As a result, these artists/athletes are forced to complete all these difficult elements in order to obtain the highest points; however; the quality of skating is suffering; with little room left for the choreography.

Figure skating is no longer an art, nor is it enjoyable to watch unless you are a “fanatic.” I miss those days when skaters could actually skate with flair, as they insert a jump wether it is a triple or quad with just magnificent steps sequences attached to it. However, despite their speed, they had elegance; they floated on the ice; they caressed the ice, and with that they had ability to convey great artistic talent. They became one with ice, one with the audience. We need balance. The old system had balance.

The following quote supports this view"

"It's no longer a free skate. There's so many mandatory things you have to put in the program if you want to be competitive." Scott Hamillton Skate Amrica 2007

Biased Judging

Subjective judging system has long been criticized because it leaves room for improprieties. Skaters can be marked down simply for the aesthetics of their programs. It is true that the new scoring system properly rewards the skaters for what jumps and moves they do on the ice — rather than the old days of the judges voting — but the numbers need to be synthesized back into a 6.0.

According to the ISU the randomness and secrecy are necessary to prevent any accountability of the judges to the public. The Code of Points clearly, makes it harder for the public to really identify instances of cheating or block judging. Judges can still cheat if they want to. The applicable rules -- particularly USFS Rule 3435 -- are vague enough to allow several interpretations of what formula could be applied to make the calculations. That is another way in which the complexity of the sport's new scoring system, is not perfect. The problem is, there will still be self-centered judges making "back room" deals. People are people. Different judging system, same old judges. As far as I can see the judges will still be able to do this under the COP or any system by manipulating "Program Component" marks to make the final point totals work out the way they want them to. There is nothing in the system itself that prevents judges from manipulating their marks deliberately . The new system favors younger, springier prepubescent skaters. The beauty and artistry of the sport have been destroyed.


Anonymous said...

They made cheating easier for the judges. It is that simple.
Gymnastics did the same thing when Hamm won a medal he didn't deserve. They changed the rules to hide the cheating.

Gymnastics and Skating are not real sports.

12345 said...

You people are so stupid. This is why they don't let fans run the sport.

First of all, the new system is the best thing to happen to figure skating. You now get REAL feedback from the judges, not just some random fractional number they conjured up. It has raised the difficulty level of many skaters program. Sure, they are getting very cookie cutter, but if you see how much the PC score factors in determining the results, then you will find skaters are doing very much to keep up their PC score.

Second, it does make it easier for the judges to cheat. And this makes it clear to me that you don't know a thing about calculating scores. The highest score when the calculation is made for an element is dropped, so therefore you would have to pay off quite a few judges to make a difference in the score (considering also that it is an average.)

And to all those that say figure skating is not a sport, there are many other sports that use a subjective judging system. And YES, this is a sport, whether or not you like it.

Your ignorance is astounding.

Ice Mom said...

I'm just a participant skater's mom, but I found Sonia Bianchetti's writings very interesting on this subject. Bianchetti is an Olympic figure skating referee and has been active in the ISU. Her website is at:

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